By purifying the firefly luciferase extract and adding all necessary chemicals but ATP in excess, an assay for ATP was performed by measuring the amount of light produced when a sample containing soluble ATP is added to the luciferase reaction mixture. Instrumentation, applications, and basic characteristics of the luciferase assay are presented. Effect of the growth medium and length of time grown in this medium on ATP per viable E. coli values is shown in graphic form, along with an ATP concentration curve showing relative light units versus ATP injected. Reagent functions and concentration methods are explored. Efforts to develop a fast automatable system to detect the presence of bacteria in biological fluids, especially urine, resulted in the optimization of procedures for use with different types of samples.